Massachusetts & Israel Collaborate on Innovation Economy

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This past week, Governor Deval Patrick led an Innovation Partnership Mission to expand opportunities between the Commonwealth and Israel for economic development and job creation in the innovation economy sectors.

On Tuesday, May 27, Governor Patrick joined MassChallenge CEO John Harthorne to announce the 2014 MassChallenge Israel startup accelerator competition finalists. The ten finalists include two startups in high-tech, five in health care and the life sciences, two in food-tech and one in the general category.

MassChallenge Israel launched in February 2014; it is the first official MassChallenge program based outside of Boston.

“Massachusetts is home to an amazing array of startups and our entrepreneurial ecosystem is one of the strongest in the Nation,” said Governor Patrick. “Through programs like MassChallenge, Massachusetts is able to extend an open invitation for the world’s highest-impact, highest-potential startups to grow their ideas in our Commonwealth.”

MassChallenge awards over $1 million in cash prizes to winning startups, with zero equity taken. Additional benefits for startups include world-class mentorship and training, free office space, access to funding, legal advice, media and over $15 million of in-kind support. The accelerator is the first of its kind to support high-impact, early-stage entrepreneurs with no strings attached.

“Hundreds of Israeli-founded companies call Massachusetts home and that number is steadily increasing thanks to the robust, innovative and welcoming communities in Massachusetts and Israel,” said Harthorne. “At MassChallenge we have seen dozens of remarkable startups from Israel working in all sectors of technology. We are proud to be a close partner for Israel and we are proud of the great community in Massachusetts.”

The MassChallenge Israel program and the anticipated MassChallenge UK program, set to launch in December 2014, furthers the Patrick Administration’s efforts to strengthen the Commonwealth’s global economic partnerships by enabling top-tier startups access to global markets by connecting them with the very best resources and organizations in Boston’s entrepreneurial network.

Now in its fifth year, the MassChallenge competition based in Boston has supported 489 startups, created more than 4,000 new jobs and raised $550 million in outside funding and generated $350 million in revenue. In 2014, MassChallenge received over 1,600 applications from 50 countries and 41 states. In support of the accelerators, the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, Massachusetts Life Sciences Center and the Massachusetts Clean Energy have provided funding totaling $1.2 million.

Also during the trip, Governor Patrick and members of the Innovation Partnership Mission met with chief executive officers from Israeli life sciences companies to discuss opportunities to create and grow their business in Massachusetts. The panel discussed the impact of the 10-year, $1 billion Life Sciences Initiative that the Governor signed into law in 2008, and the role that the Initiative has played in making Massachusetts a global leader in the life sciences. Since 2008, the Center has invested or committed more than $530 million, leveraged over $1.5 billion in third party investment, and created thousands of jobs across the state.

Last year, a report by the New England-Israel Business Council underscored the impact of Israeli-founded companies on the Massachusetts economy that has grown significantly in recent years, following the Governor’s 2011 mission to Israel. According to that study, Israeli-founded companies in Massachusetts booked $6.2 billion in revenue in the state in 2012 and employed nearly 6,700 people. The study also found that the growth rate of Israeli companies in Massachusetts is five times that of the Massachusetts economy as a whole.

From Israel, the Innovation Partnership Mission is heading to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to explore economic opportunities there, in the wake of the new direct air service Emirates Airlines between Dubai and Boston, which opened in March 2014.